By now, we’ve all heard — and seen and watched and read — that the consumption of media has gone through the roof during the pandemic. That’s what happens when audiences are faced with the twin pillars of a desperate need for information and a way to entertain themselves, and perhaps escape, during the lockdown. And yet, the virus seeped into every corner of our media consciousness.
My own media consumption has definitely changed in the last 12 months. I’m old school: I love the act of reading the print edition of The New York Times, which I used to do on my daily train ride into New York City. But during the pandemic, as the Grey Lady continued to find its way with impressive accuracy to the bushes at the bottom of my front steps and my commute was shortened to kitchen-to-couch, I found my life-long love affair with the paper waning. First of all: The news was unrelentingly bad, messages being amplified by every other medium and conversation. Second, the Times has an uncanny knack for delivering the bad news about the good news. So, I turned to the Associated Press app. The news was no less bad, but it was delivered, somehow, in a way that felt more palatable, more straight-up-the-middle.
Public radio is a mainstay in my house. Walk into the kitchen and you’ll hear the news, or conversation, or whatever else the sages are delivering. But during the pandemic, it’s been 24/7 doom. No knock on the BBC for shining its light on dark corners, but for my own sanity, the radio was retuned to Q104.3, New York’s Classic Rock. (Note to programmers: There are other songs in the canon besides “Hotel California” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Just saying.)
I started 15 different books and didn’t, couldn’t, finish a single one. It says nothing about the quality of the books and everything about my own state of mind.
We binge-watched Homeland and Ray Donovan, notable, I can assure you, for its largely credible Boston accents. Ozark? Way too dark for me.
Which leaves me with my music library and streaming services, my happy places and an always-comfortable space. There was a steady diet of workout music (Pearl Jam, Rage Against the Machine, Metallica) and chill (The Dead and Stan Getz).
But fittingly, the song I listened to more than any other in the past 12 months is “So Much Trouble in the World” by Bob Marley and the Wailers. Followed by Marley’s “No More Trouble.” A conscious choice? Hmmmm.